ROBINSON KUNDA, Lusaka
THE K2.3 million- rich Barclays Cup kicks off today in Lusaka with four Division One teams jostling for two quarter-final places.
Division One Zone Four side New Monze Swallows face their Zone Two counterparts Kitwe United in a lunch-time kick-off while Zone One leaders National Assembly tackle last year’s quarter-finalists Kabwe Youth Soccer Academy from Zone Three. The play-offs are billed for Nkoloma Stadium. The reward for the winners between Monze and Kitwe United will be a tough quarter-final fixture against five-time winners Zesco United on September 23 while the victors between Assembly and Kabwe Youth will take on Lusaka Dynamos on the same date.MONZE v KITWE (13:00hrs) Both sides are competing in the tournament for the first time and are hoping to lay their hands on the trophy. Kitwe, the 2004 BP Top Eight champions, are favourites to progress to the last eight. The Buchi Boys have Super Division experience and were demoted to the lower ranks in 2006. Kitwe are fifth on the log with 44 points, two behind leaders Kansanshi Dynamos. Kitwe assistant coach Chisala Mwandama said they are targeting a good run in the Barclays Cup. “We are looking forward to the Barclays Cup. That will be a test for us. We want to go as far as we can. We have a very good side, I can tell you this for free,” Mwandama said. But Swallows could stun Kitwe if underrated. Swallows are topping Zone Four with 44 points, two above second-placed Zesco Victoria Falls and this is proof that Kitwe should expect a tough match.ASSEMBLY v KABWE (15:00 hours) Kabwe Youth were the tournament’s surprise package last year but inexperience cost them as Nkana came from behind to beat them 3-1in a quarter-final match in Lusaka. This year, Kabwe Youth have continued with their impressive performance and lead Zone Three log with 54 points, 10 better than Prison Leopards. The Kabwe side need to up their game against in-form Assembly. Assembly have lost once this term and want to extend their good run to the Barclays Cup. Winners of the 2017 edition will receive K350,000 from last year’s K300,000 while runners-up will pocket K180,000 from K150,000. The best coach and player-of-the-tournament will receive K15,000 each while the player-of-the-match for each of the nine matches will receive K5,000 apiece.Past Winners: 2007- Zesco United 2008 – Zesco 2009 – Power Dynamos 2010- Zesco 2011 – Power 2012 – Napsa Stars 2013 – Red Arrows 2014 – Zesco 2015 – Green Buffaloes 2016 – Zesco 2017 – ?